Talking is the first step

Published 5:34 pm Friday, September 16, 2016

Throughout the month of September, health care providers in Beaufort County focus in on two specific types of cancer: ovarian and prostate.

It may be uncomfortable for people to discuss these private areas, but it’s of the utmost importance.

One in seven men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime, as it is the most common type of cancer in males, according to the American Cancer Society.

On the other hand, ovarian cancer is relatively rare and the 17th most common cancer found in women, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is no less deadly, however.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America lists these ovarian cancer symptoms to watch for: abdominal bloating, indigestion or nausea; changes in appetite; feeling pressure in the pelvis or lower back; urinating more frequently; changes in bowel movements; increased abdominal size; and feeling tired or having low energy.

The organization lists symptoms of prostate cancer, as well: burning or painful urination; difficulty urinating, including starting or stopping; more urges to go during the night; loss of bladder control; decreased urine flow; and blood in urine.

These types of symptoms are in no way comfortable to discuss. Quite frankly, it’s awkward to talk about urination or bowel movements with a doctor. In a woman’s case, some of the ovarian cancer symptoms might be brushed off as symptoms of a menstrual cycle.

Talking about these risks and being willing to open up to one’s doctor about potential symptoms can save countless lives. Cancer in all forms is deadly. But when it’s caught early and met head on, a patient’s chance of survival increases immensely.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it. More importantly, make the commitment to take control of one’s health. It could — and will — save one’s life.